Trust20 shares the importance of food allergy awareness and knowing how to properly handle allergenic menu items.
Working in the food industry, we pride ourselves on knowing details like the nutty richness of romesco comes from a mixture of almonds and hazelnuts or that tahini, a sesame paste, adds a creamy smoothness to hummus.
It’s normal to get stuck in our own perspectives and assume that others share our culinary knowledge. Unfortunately, what may seem obvious to us isn’t always for others and should be recognized—especially since food allergies and intolerances are rising.
According to Trust20, a training and development company for the hospitality industry, 32 million Americans experience food allergies as a life-threatening medical condition. This number is only growing, and so are the opportunities to encounter guests with dietary restrictions.
Everyone should be aware of nine major food allergies: milk and dairy, eggs, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat, soy, and lastly, sesame—basically, all of the things we handle and serve daily.
Sesame allergies have been increasing for the last two decades, and Trust20 shared that come January 2023, sesame will be added as the ninth major food allergen recognized in the United States.
In addition to allergies, The National Institute of Health estimates up to 20% of the world’s population experience food intolerance. You’re likely aware of dairy and gluten, but caffeine makes up the third primary intolerance.
While many assume that an intolerance is less severe than a food allergy—Trust20 shares that “there are such things as mild allergies and severe intolerances.” Their causes and reactions differ, but both need to be treated with equal care.
“It’s often easier for customers with food allergies or intolerances to eat their meals at home,” Trust20 states. “If a customer has chosen your restaurant, it should be your goal to make sure they don’t regret putting their trust in you and your kitchen.”
We put a lot of responsibility on our customers to know the ingredients of items on our menus or to let us know when they are allergic to something
As industry professionals, we simply can’t have this much trust in our guests and, unfortunately, sometimes even our colleagues.
To keep your guests safe and avoid the mortification of sending someone into anaphylactic shock — Trust20 shared some critical steps when handling allergenic foods.
Tips for serving customers with allergies and intolerances:
- Prepare allergy-safe menu items first—then keep them covered and separated from other foods.
- Create allergen-free workspaces with designated equipment and utensils. Make sure to clean, rinse and sanitize all food surfaces before and after use.
- Always wash your hands after handling allergenic foods.
- Check ingredient lists and packaging for certain disclosures like, “Processed in a Facility That Also Processes [peanuts].
- Label foods that contain allergens.
- If a customer returns a dish due to an allergen, remake the whole dish—it’s contaminated, and removing the item is not enough.
In addition to knowing how to handle allergenic foods—it’s a good practice to ask your customers if there are any food allergies you and your team should know about. This is sometimes done through reservation software, but you should still get in the habit of asking before taking orders in case someone misses the option.
To ensure you’re equipped with the information to keep your customers safe, and if you want to add a sought-after skill to your qualifications—consider taking Trust20’s ANAB-Accredited Food Allergy Certification training!
They built the course to be comprehensive and informative, yet quick and engaging—only taking 60-90 minutes to complete. After passing a final assessment, you’ll even get a snazzy certification that you can add to your resume credentials.
The number of people with food allergies and intolerances is only growing, so educating yourself on handling allergenic foods and building inclusive and safe environments is increasingly valuable.
Click the banner below to learn more and start Trust20’s Food Allergy Certificate training.